Campfire Blog

Will Tourists One Day Visit Dependence Hall?

Independence Hall, Philadelphia

Our political leaders have forgotten about the spirit of 1776

PHILADELPHIA–Here, 225 years ago, on a day just as sweltering as today, George Washington, James Madison, Gouvernor Morris, John Adams and others hammered out the Constitution in what we now call Independence Hall.

Visiting there last month—incidentally, on the anniversary of the Constitution’s ratification—I heard the park ranger remind the tourists hailing from Alabama to the Ukraine that the document the Framers created was only four pages—four pages that built that greatest nation the world has ever seen. In the end, many were not completely happy with every aspect of the proposed final version. But in a rousing speech urging the convention to approve the Constitution, Ben Franklin, in his densely persuasive way, said, “I am not sure, that it is not the best.” That was all the delegates needed to hear.

As the tour moved on, I stayed back a few seconds, staring at the empty black chairs and the green desks with quill pens, positioned as they were back then. I tried to envision the Framers sitting, arguing, pacing, writing, maybe even struggling to stay awake in the intense heat as they tried to forge a nation. But it was tough to see them as real humans in my mind. All of those characters are so familiar to us as Americans, yet, when you try to picture them actually talking with each other in that room it’s not easy. We know them so well, yet we don’t know what Washington and Franklin sounded like. Even in my imagination, I can only see them as giants, as legends of world history, as unmoving statues in a wax museum. I could even picture them as bobbleheads but not as human beings.

But we do know what they believed in, what they were willing to fight for and die for. Standing there in Independence Hall, surrounded by the ghosts of the Framers, all I could think about was the future of the country. The document forged that summer has lasted us a long while, but we’ve abused it and ignored it too often. And now, with thousand-page legislation like Obamacare, we are losing the freedoms the Framers tried to enshrine. Our current president has no regard for the Constitution. He doesn’t talk about it, he doesn’t cite it, and he definitely does not feel limited by it.

The President and members of Congress should, of their own initiative, visit Independence Hall now and then, just to sit there in silence, and think about the free society they have been entrusted with governing. Let everything else just fade away for a minute, and remember the spirit of 1776 and 1787. Forget about the trappings and the platitudes and Yankee Doodle and remember the purpose of the Revolution and the Constitution: To free a people from a government that interfered with their lives, to allow Americans to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as they see fit.

It’s called Independence Hall for a reason: Those men did not sit there presuming to solve every problem of the world; they did not try to craft a plan that would help them achieve permanent power; they did not propose anything that would make people dependent on government. They had an almost sacred respect for the rights of the people and institutions of America–inviolable rights, as they called them. Inviolable! Not subject to any exceptions–not even in the name of a federal Health and Human services mandate! These were the nonnegotiables as they negotiated to form a governing document that could protect the freedoms for which patriots had shed blood.

Imagine a hundred years from now, a group of tourists visit the backroom where Obamacare was hammered out. Would they have the same sense of awe experienced by those breathing in the air of Independence Hall? Would they get chills, standing in the shadows of those who created a new American constitution otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act?

Of course not. And maybe by then, we’ll be calling the Capitol Building by a new name:  Dependence Hall, the place where our liberties were lost, because we failed to be vigilant and decided to quit being independent, chooing to surrender liberty for government handouts. As Franklin said, “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”

  1. D.M. Zuniga, P.E.

    Another excellent monograph, Joe; though I’d like to add a twist or two, if I may.

    Consider how the world has changed over the past 220 years. In the first place, those men were deliberating over a new republic of sovereign States the total population of which was about half the population of metropolitan Houston today. Their world was staggeringly simple and charmingly small, compared to the one we now inhabit. That’s a problem.

    On the other hand, they had none of the tools that we enjoy — and take for granted — now. We can speak with one another from right where we sit, though we be halfway around the world from one another. And not only talk, but SEE one another as we meet. The power at our disposal is truly dumbfounding, yet technology cannot substitute for human virtue. That too, is a problem.

    A third consideration is this one: the ‘Golden Age’ of Greece was a period variously estimated at 40 to 60 years; the best estimate is that it lasted from the end of the Persian Wars to the middle or so of the Peloponnesian Wars. That’s less than 50 years in which real popular sovereignty reigned in Periclean Athens. The Spartans and their league put an end to that.

    The Greeks, with all their erudition, could only hold a constitutional city-state half the size of Houston, together for 50 years. The magnificent design of the framers of the Constitution, has held together — yes, mostly now in the breach, to be sure! — but for 220 years! Truly, we are a people blessed far beyond what we deserve.

    The Constitution is still able to limit government to its lawful powers — but ONLY if We The People do our duty. That duty is that of a SOVEREIGN; this is what James Madison and Thomas Jefferson maintained the citizens in America are…the Apex Sovereigns (top bosses) over our State governments.

    Then, they maintained that these sovereign State governments were ‘bosses’ over the federal servant, in every imaginable power except the 17 enumerated to Congress in Article I, Section 8 of that Constitution they crafted in Philadelphia.

    WE have fumbled and failed. We The People — we, the citizens who by design are called to superintend and limit our governments! — WE have failed to keep the republic that those men entrusted to us.

    The great news? As with the shots at Lexington Green and Concord Bridge…as with the collapse of the Berlin Wall…things can change with lightning rapidity in human history. The D.C. Leviathan and dispirited citizenry are not fixed stars in a constellation; only challenges for us to meet, and we CAN meet them!

    Most people don’t understand that electoral politics is passing into a new era; social networks, blogs, and open-source databases have laid the world open to inspection — and eventually, to law enforcement.

    What tiny little James Madison did 220 years ago, Joe Lindsley can do today — if he is called by God to do it. There are tens of thousands of talented, truly amazing individuals in America today. There are millions of citizens ready to do their duty, if they only knew what to do! Restoring the limited government called for in the Constitution is Job One; that is what AmericaAgain! Trust was founded to accomplish. It will not be done overnight; but the first salvos, and the beginning of the crumbling of Leviathan’s walls…can come literally overnight. Literally in one news cycle, and the rest will be history.

    At inception of their work, the Founding Fathers could never have guessed the sheer scale that their invention would attain. And see what God has done through America, warts and all!

    Yes, things are tough now — as is true all over the world. But no one has a Constitution like ours, or a critical mass of citizens who, if led, can enforce and restore that Constitution, earth’s premiere engine of liberty. WE are to blame for the past century of retrogression; WE must get back on task, repentantly (per II Chronicles 7:14).

    It is up to each generation not to look back 220 years to better days, but to look ahead at a world starving and thirsting for what we have — if we will only USE it. We can’t use it until we enforce it. But when we do that — just a few hundred thousand of us — we will bring glory to Christ, honor to those founders, and a life worth living to our grandchildren.

    Don’t believe me? Just you wait and see. Remember I told you so.

    D.M. Zuniga, P.E.
    Founder, AmericaAgain! Trust

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